Military records can be an invaluable source of information for genealogists. They can provide a wealth of detail about your ancestors’ service in the military, including their rank, unit, and dates of service. They can also reveal a great deal about your ancestors’ personal lives, such as their places and dates of birth — and even about their physical characteristics, such as height, hair color, and eye color.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of military records and what they can tell you about your ancestors’ lives. We’ll also show you how to search military records by name and by additional criteria on MyHeritage, take a look at an example, and highlight some of the important military record collections available on MyHeritage.
Types of military records and what they contain
There are a number of different types of military records you might be able to find recording your ancestors’ service. On MyHeritage, you can find military records under 3 main categories:
Draft, enlistment, and service records: These are the most common types of record. Draft and enlistment records are made when a soldier joins the army, and will include details about the recruits such as their names, birth dates, and birthplaces. They might also include details about the recruits’ family members and physical descriptions. Service records document details about a soldier’s service in the army, such as their rank, unit, and dates of service.
Pension records: These records document military pensions paid by the government — stipends paid to army veterans in recognition of their service. These types of records typically contain the applicant’s name, date of birth, place of residence, and information about their military service. They may also contain information about family members, such as the spouse and children of the individual.
Military documents: These include a wide variety of other types of record, from military burial records to army registers and rosters to books about various conflicts. They could contain many different types of information about people who served in the army.
How to access and search military records on MyHeritage
There are several ways to search military records on MyHeritage.
You can start on the main search page at myheritage.com/research, and select the “Military” category on the right side of the category section.
You can also simply run a general search using the form at the top of the page, and then narrow the results to military records by selecting the “Military” category to the left of the results.
Finally, you can access military records through the Collection Catalog: hover over the “Research” tab in the navigation bar and select “Collection Catalog.” Then, select “Military” from the categories on the left.
This will allow you to browse the specific collections of military records on MyHeritage and search the collections you’re most interested in. You’ll also be able to see which collections on MyHeritage are new or have been recently updated.
When searching for a military record for your ancestor, it’s best to start with as general a search as possible — starting with just a name and a birth date or place, for example — and add more details as you go. This allows you to cast a wider net and potentially find records about your ancestor that may have included some inaccurate information.
Sample military record
Let’s take a look at an example.
The United States World War I Draft Registrations, 1917–1918 collection contains a record of Edwin Hubble, the astronomer after whom the Hubble Space Telescope was named. To find this record, we can start with a general search, entering Edwin’s name into the general search form and then narrowing the results, or we can go straight to the relevant collection in the Collection Catalog and enter his name into the search form for that collection
Here’s the record on the results page:
Click anywhere on the result card to access the record. Here is the Review Record page:
This record contains Hubble’s name, gender, date of birth, age, approximate date of registration, nationality, and language. Below these details, you’ll see more information about where this record came from, and below that, a high-resolution scan of the record. You can zoom in and out on the scanned record using the zoom buttons on the lower right corner, or open a full screen view using the “Expand” button on the top right.
To the right of the record details, you’ll find a description of the collection that contains this record and a link to search that collection. Below, you’ll also find any related records that MyHeritage’s algorithm has identified as possibly being relevant to this person. You can read more about the Related Records feature here.
When you find a record that is relevant to someone on your tree, you can save the record to your tree and extract any new information you found in the record by clicking the “Save record” button at the top of the page.
Important military records on MyHeritage
MyHeritage contains hundreds of military records. Here are just a few of the valuable military record collections you can find on MyHeritage:
- U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861–1865
- France, Military Death Index, 1914–1961
- United Kingdom, Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, 1914–1918
- United States Naval Enlistment Rendezvous, 1855–1891
- France, World War II Prisoners of War
- Korean War Casualties, 1950–1957
- Revolutionary War Pension Records
- British Army Prisoners of War Held in German Camps, 1939–1945
- United Kingdom, Recommendations for Military Honours and Awards, 1935–1990
Searching military records on MyHeritage is free, and some collections (like the French Military Death Index and the Revolutionary War Pension Records collections listed above) are free to view as well. However, you’ll need a Complete or Data plan to view most of the records and to save them to your tree.
To learn more about searching military records on MyHeritage, watch this Ask the Expert webinar with David Allen Lambert.